Spain and Germany are two of the powerhouses of international football. On Sunday, they played like it.
The two countries finished deadlocked in a 1-1 draw, a result that left Spain atop the group with four points and gave Germany a sorely needed point in its attempt to escape the group stage.
There was a satisfying symmetry in this game. Spain won the possession battle (64 percent), as to be expected, but Germany created more chances (11-7 in shots, 4-3 in shots on goal). Both teams didn't start a traditional center forward, and both subbed on true strikers—Álvaro Morata and Niclas Füllkrug, respectively—who scored the game's two goals:
It truly was a game that could have gone either way, even if the point was more meaningful for Germany.
Suffice to say, football fans and pundits alike enjoyed the ride:
It's all for grabs in Group E now. Spain is fairly likely to advance, and a win or draw over Japan on Thursday will guarantee the team advances (and even a loss may be enough to move on, though it would need Germany and Costa Rica to draw).
Germany, meanwhile, will only advance with a win, and even then it will either need Japan to lose to Spain or draw, though the latter becomes complicated.
Paul Carr @PaulCarr
Simple Group E scenarios to advance on Thursday:<br><br>🇪🇸 (4 pts) win/draw vs Japan OR loss and CRC-GER draw<br><br>🇯🇵 (3) win OR draw and CRC-GER draw<br><br>🇨🇷 (3) win vs Germany OR draw and Japan loss<br><br>🇩🇪 (1) win and Japan loss<br><br>Good <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RootForChaos?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RootForChaos</a> possibilities here too.
If Germany and Japan finish level on points in the group stage, the next tiebreaker is goal differential. Currently Japan is even in goal differential while Germany is at minus-one, so Germany would need to outscore Costa Rica by two goals in the event Japan draws with Spain (a scenario that would leave Japan even on goal differential while Germany moved to plus-one).
If Germany only wins by one goal, Japan draws and the two sides are even in goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals scored in the group stage. Currently, the two sides are even in that category at two apiece, and a 2-2 draw for Japan paired with a 1-0 German victory would be enough to see Japan through. Likewise, a scoreless draw for Japan and a 1-0 win for Germany would advance the Germans.
And finally, if the two sides also finish even on total goals, then the tiebreaker goes to head-to-head matchup, with Japan winning that tiebreaker after defeating Germany. So while the Germans don't control their own fate, a multi-goal win over a scrappy Costa Rica side should see them through unless Japan beats Spain outright.
All of that to say that Sunday's point was very important to Germany and was earned in what was arguably the game of the tournament thus far.